Seattle’s LGBT Equality March – Youth Lead the Way

Sunday I headed over to Volunteer Park for a march and rally in support LGBT equality.  It seemed especially important to be there given Initiative 71 made it on the ballot. Initiative 71 was written by religious (and maybe non-religious) bigots to take away the “everything but marriage” civil rights our legislature gave to the LGBT community (and our senior citizens,who often stand to lose to many of their benefits they need to live on if they re-marry). 

Due to the way Washington State ballot measures are required to be written, now that we’re now voting on civil rights for a group of citizens in our state, you need vote to Approve Referendum 71 if you support equal rights for lesbians, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people.

It was a good size gathering, though not as large as I would have expected, given the size of our Pride marches. Not only not as many supporters like me as I would have thought, but not as many older LGBT activists.  As I discovered, the young people, once again, are leading the way, and some of their elders have lost touch with the need to take action and make change happen.

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One of the speakers kept saying “This isn’t your father’s LGBT movement!”, which made me feel old since I knew I was the age of the fathers they were referring to, but they were right.  I was encouraged to hear of support for LGBT rights and against bigotry from straight frat boys and pro-football players these days.

I was also very disturbed to learn of Rep. Barney Frank’s comments

Rep. Barney Frank, the first openly gay member of Congress, has some advice for gay rights supporters: lobby, don’t march.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Frank called the demonstrations in Washington this weekend “a waste of time at best” and “an emotional release” that does little to cause change.

“The only thing they’re going to be putting pressure on is the grass,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Friday.

No, wait, his advice gets even more pathetic and out of touch:

Call or write your representative or senator, and then have your friends call and write their representative or senator,” Frank said. 
“That’s what the NRA does. That’s what the AARP does,” he said, referring to the two most effective interest groups – the National Rifle Association and the American Association of Retired Persons.

The AARP?!  If the AARP wants my support when they start asking for it in, umm, a few months, they better start taking lessons from these young people (or their own youth, when they were singing, with feeling, The Times, They Are a Changing).  As I recall, the AARP caved to Bush on prescription drugs! Yeah, lobbying with stogey old groups is what you do when you really want to make change. . .NOT!

As several of the young speakers pointed out, that was not how change was made in the 60’s.  People were out in the streets, staging sit ins at lunch counters. . . Activists were. . .active! The old. . .it’s not the right time (this time for marriage equality), just wait. . . was very familiar, too, as they noted.  That’s what Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other civil rights leaders were told.  If they hadn’t been ready to take a stand and ignore the advice of their not so helpful allies, they would still be in the back of the bus. Same bigots, and some of them haven’t let go of the racial issue yet, either, if you listen to the rabid right talk about our President.

 We had music by Jared Douglas at the opening rally.  Someone I’m, of course, clueless of, but the young people were very into.

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Here’s a clip of Crazy Thing from the rally on YouTube:

A young woman talked about not wanting to be quiet about her love because she loved another woman, and why should she?  Why should people be offended by any public show of affection from a gay or lesbian couple they wouldn’t be bothered by if it were a straight couple?

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A young man read poetry of love that seemed much too old for his age (like not knowing how to love in this century).

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Then State Rep. Jamie Pedersen came up and talked about coming out in Puyallup and his former girlfriend’s mom telling her she could get AIDS from talking to him. 

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Now, Jamie’s election is a case in point as to why these young people should ignore older politicians like Barney Frank.  I remember the endorsement party for the 43rd the year Jamie was elected.  I remember thinking I was toward the young age of the people there, which was not a good sign as I was in my mid 40s and the 43rd District takes in the U District and Capitol Hill, neighborhoods heavily populated by young people. Seriously, Capitol Hill is even more so than over here near the U.  What happens to people over 30 on the hill? I keep expecting to see Charlton Heston warning “Soylent green (no, wait: tofu) is people!”

About the only young people at the endorsement meeting were Jamie’s friends and those of Stephanie Pure, a member of then City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck’s staff.  I felt bad when Stephanie came in dead last in the endorsements.  Jamie didn’t do so well either.

Actual election? Stephanie did a lot better, I think better than the 43rd’s endorsements did, and Jamie, of course, won. If you left it to the old, out of touch, political machine to decide, no doubt Jamie would be still waiting to lead. This being Seattle, and the 43rd, his being gay wasn’t even an issue (other than bringing in a few more votes, with Capitol Hill also having a large gay population).

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Then we marched.  Out of Volunteer Park and down Broadway before turning downtown.  They were chanting for people to come out of the bars and into the streets (unfortunately, not too many takers).

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Marched ending up at the Federal Courthouse on 7th & Stewart and another rally.  One of the issues mentioned there was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which President Obama says he wants to end but. . .hmm. . .but, wait. . .?  One thing that strikes me about that issue, at a human rights rally last year a young woman who just got out of the service as a medic noting no one is particularly concerned about whether you’re gay or straight when they’re wounded. . .

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Ending the rally were two young women performing hip hop.

All in all, an encouraging day of youth activism.  My one thought at the moment, is hoping they’ve also found a way to reach out in the suburbs and rural areas of the state.  Seattle’s vote in support of Ref. 71 should be an easy one. 

While the issue isn’t marriage, at least for this election, indeed, why not marriage?  Who should have the right to say others can’t marry who they wish in a civil marriage?  If we go by religion, who’s religion?  The Catholic Church, where I was raised doesn’t recognize 2nd marriages.  Should they decide for everyone else only a 1st marriage will be recognized and legal?

What if you had to ask everyone’s permission to get married (as this Irish video makes the point)?

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